The scenario of the first Hubside Jumping Spring Tour CSI4* Grand Prix of 2021 was ideal. The sun shining again in the ring in Var, 41 combinations were competing in this 1.55m Grand Prix and a final with 10 jump-off riders. The French course designer Cédric Longis was to be commended to have successfully finished up with the 25% of clear rounds expected.
Although two lady riders finished on the podium, in the end it was Spain’s Eduardo Alvarez Aznar who was the winner riding Legend, his ten-year-old gelding.
In this first round of this first 4* Grand Prix of the year in Grimaud, where riders had poles down here and there over the course, twelve combinations managed to jump the 13 fences and 16 jumping efforts clear. Daniel Deusser (GER), eagerly awaited with his Killer Queen VDM, missed going through to
the jump-off due to finishing ten hundredths of a second over the time allowed, resulting in a time fault.
In the same way, despite jumping a perfect round with Cordial, young Mégane Moissonnier (FRA), also ended up with a time fault as she finished thirty-seven hundredths of a second over the time allowed. So the jump-off featured ten combinations representing not less than six different nations.
First to go, France’s Grégory Cottard, already the winner of a class at the beginning of the week, finished his jump-off round at top speed with Bibici. However, a pole down on the last fence put them into sixth place despite a fast time of 41.13 seconds. After him, Turkey’s Derin Demirsoy and Belgium’s François Mathy Jr, both had a pole down on the first element of the double. Mathieu Bilot, who is known for taking risks with Quel Filou 13, saw his hopes of a victory disappear on the second fence of the jump-off and finished at a less frantic pace, in a time of 44.52 seconds, putting him into tenth place.
Jessica Springsteen, the first lady rider to go in the jump-off, had one down on the second-last fence with RMF Tinkerbell, so half way through the jump-off, no combination had managed to be double clear.
But it rapidly became a done deal when Niels Bruynseels and his gelding Nabeau van cet Migroveld Z
came into the ring. They finished in a time of 46.05 seconds and went into the lead, but only for a few
seconds. Eduardo Alvarez Aznar, the only Spanish rider in this Grand Prix, finished in 41.93 seconds with Legend, more than four seconds faster than the Belgian rider. Although Kevin Staut had one down on the second oxer on the track, he had the fastest jump-off round, in 40.46 seconds and finished in fifth place overall.
Only the two lady riders left to go could still hope to unseat the Spanish rider. Despite taking out a stride on the last line, Pénélope Leprevost wasn’t able to do better, finishing in 43.20 seconds, and went into second place. Lastly, Portugal’s Luciana Diniz, finished in 43.86 seconds with Conchento PS, and took the third place on the podium.
Eduardo Alvarez Aznar, winner of the CSI4* Grand Prix: “This was Legend’s first 4* Grand Prix, so I couldn’t be more pleased today! He jumped really well in the first round. I knew there were still some very fast combinations after me in the jump-off so I took a lot of risks and they paid off. I’m really delighted and I would like to thank my groom for the great job that he has done.”
Pénélope Leprevost, second in the CSI4* Grand Prix, said, “It was a fabulous day for us! I’m proud of Eden who rode really well in her 2* Grand Prix and who was amongst the best riders at the prize-giving ceremony. It was an important day for her! As for the 4* Grand Prix, I’m delighted with Excalibur. He’s just started competing again after a break this winter and a few rounds at the Sunshine Tour at the beginning of the year. It was his first show here and he’s in great form! I took risks on the last line to take out a stride, which surprised him a bit but he jumped really well. I don’t think that we could have really gone any faster in this jump-off so I’m really thrilled by this second place!”
Luciana Diniz, third in the CSI4* Grand Prix: “Today was my first Grand Prix with Conchento PS so I’m pleased to be third, and even more so as the owners are in Saint-Tropez and were here today! I was last to go in the jump-off, so I should have gone faster, but I wasn’t able to maintain the pace that a last jump-off rider should normally have. Conchento is still young and has never gone fast in a jump-off. Last week I made a silly mistake in the jump-off in Den Bosch and maybe that was still at the back of my mind. Today I tried to do better and I am satisfied with my third place.”
Competition resumes Thursday.